The State Senate today unanimously approved a resolution by Senate President Nicholas Scutari and State Sen. Fred Madden (D-Washington) calling on Gov. Phil Murphy to “take all measures necessary” to address the backlog of unemployment claims and reopen in-person One Stop Career Centers, which have been closed since the pandemic began.
“It’s a mess, and it’s disgraceful,” Madden said of the pandemic-era measures. “New Jersey needs to become a partner with the people who are hurting… We need to stand together on this. We need to stand together and truly forge ahead, and try to do everything we can to make sure that the people in charge, whether it be the executive branch or other people, open offices.”
A number of Madden’s colleagues from both sides of the aisle took the chance to speak on the Senate floor in support of the resolution, which some said they hoped would eventually help their struggling constituents and others said would re-establish the legislature as a coequal branch of government.
“Who in this administration knows how to run a government?” State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) asked. “Certainly not the Department of Labor… This is a vitally important issue because we all have lived this issue, we will continue to live this issue, and quite frankly, I don’t hold out any hope at all, after two years, that this administration does anything at all to fix their problem.”
Just minutes after the resolution was passed, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced that limited in-person services at certain One-Stop Career Centers would return beginning on March 28, though meetings will still be by appointment only.
“We have always been committed to serving the greatest number of claimants in the shortest time possible, and there is no question accessing benefits online is easiest, quickest, and most efficient for most claimants,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a statement. “However, we recognize the desire of some claimants to communicate face-to-face when discussing the complexities of their unemployment claim.”